TTT1008-FEB 24-11AM: LYME DISEASE 2: Politics and Prevention in Our Great Outdoors

On-air date: 
Wed, 02/24/2010

Back in January, we talked about the surge in cases of Lyme Disease – the seemingly innocuous infection from the bite of a deer tick - the near-microscopic cousin to the larger wood tick – both of them flourishing in the Minnesota outdoors. Depending on who’s talking, Lyme Disease is either a brief, but eminently treatable infection – caused when the deer tick burrows into the skin and deposits the bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi-1 – or, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, a potentially dangerous and chronic condition eventually undermining several of the body’s important functions.

Back in January, we featured several advocates – including a physician and patients who insist that the latter – the chronic form – is not only possible, but far too common to be ignored, as they claim the mainline medical community has. And, although the stories about real people in very real suffering keep mounting, and more doctors appear to be bucking the system guidelines that say chronic Lyme cannot be real, medical journals and professionals in the government sector and private practice cling to guidelines that insist that what others call chronic Lyme are really other kinds of infection and that the accepted scientific studies refute the chronic believers’ claims.

Back in January, we talked with a state representative who sponsored a bill to prevent the medical practices board from disciplining doctors who deviate from the accepted guidelines – compiled by the private nonprofit Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and accepted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) division, The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). IDSA backers have testified against such exceptions. Its counterpart - comprised of dissenting doctors on the other side - the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), insists that evidence of chronic Lyme is far stronger than mainline medicine claims is missing from the argument.

Then, we have all of us non-medical types who would like to wander through the woods with some assurance that we can prevent these tick bites to begin with and to easily spot them when they happen. Just how big is the tick problem in Minnesota, and why has it jumped so severely in recent years? What must we do to keep the little buggers off our bodies in the first place.

(UPDATE: The Minnesota Medical Practices Board recently passed a rule dping just that: exempting - for the time being - physicians who deviate from IDSA Guideleines to treat chronic Lyme Disease)

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN revisit our Lyme Disease conversation with some answers to these questions.

On-air guests: 

JIM STARK - Executive Director, Metropolitan Mosquito Control District

AARON DeVRIES, M.D. - Medical Epidemiologist, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control (IDEPC) Division, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control (IDEPC) Division of MN Department of Health (MDH)

ELIZABETH MALONEY, M.D. - Family Practice Physician (Forest Lake); Medical Advisor to the MN Lyme Action Support Group (MLASG)

CONNIE STRASHEIM - Health Care Journalist and Author, Insights into Lyme Disease Treatments